Welcome to the Wrestlepurists’ live coverage of Monday Night Raw for the August 28th, 2023 episode.
DAMIAN PRIEST DEFEATS SAMI ZAYN
We kick off Monday Night Raw with a graphic honoring the passing of the legendary Terry Funk and the unforgettable Bray Wyatt. My thoughts are still very much with them and their families. It’s been a trying week to be a fan, but let’s have some fun tonight. Were starting Raw with Mr. Money in the Bank Damian Priest taking on one half of the WWE Tag Team Champions, Sami Zayn. Michael Cole announces that Sami and Kevin Owens are defending their titles against Priest and Finn Balor at Payback this Saturday. That should be a great match, and may be when the issues in the Judgment Day come to a head. The crowd is firmly on the side of Sami, with him taking the early edge using his speed. Sami dives over the ropes but Priest catches him, and drives Sami face first into the announce table as we head to break. Back from break and Sami is able to barely get Priest over with a sunset flip powerbomb from the top for a two count. Sami springboards off the ropes backwards over Priest, and clotheslines him out and over. Then Sami follows up with a vintage Sami dive. Priest cuts off a Sami attack from the top with a chokeslam attempt, but Sami reverses it into a Blue Thunder Bomb for a two count. Sami hits the exploder suplex into the corner but JD McDonagh grabs Sami’s leg to thwart the Helluva Kick. Priest takes advantage of the distraction and hits the South of Heaven for the thee count! JD tries to raise Priest’s hand, but he gets a shove for his trouble. Back in the ring, Kevin Owens has joined the fray and nails JD with a Stunner. Priest looks on while Sami hits a Helluva kick on JD. Really fun opening match, I’m looking forward to the tag title match at Payback. Poor JD can’t catch a break lol
BACKSTAGE WITH DREW MCINTYRE
Drew McIntyre is backstage looking at a photo, with Akira Tozawa telling him it “looks great.” Turns out its a photo of Drew in Matt Riddle like trunks. Drew is clearly pissed, but Riddle suggest matching kilts if he doesn’t like the photo. They agree to sit ringside during the New Day and the Viking Raiders tag team match. I’m enjoying the slow burn on the presumed Drew turn on Riddle. Also Tozawa is always great in these segments.
RAQUEL RODRIQUEZ VIDEO PACKAGE
Raquel Rodriquez says that Rhea Ripley is the most dominant female in the WWE…except for her. We see highlights of their feud, and Raquel says she will not let Rhea run through their division. For Raquel it’s not just about what Rhea’s done to her, but about what she’s done to Liv. Raquel focuses on being the bigger and stronger athlete. Great video package, which I see them doing more and more for talent that isn’t the strongest live interview.
“LA KNIGHT” IN-RING PROMO
LET. ME. TALK. TO. YA. Oh no….it’s the Miz. LOL this is great, he absolutely had people fooled. I remember the Miz’s best part of his feud with Cena during the Wrestlemania 27 build was when he came out as The Rock. And oh my god the Miz has a pretty good Knight impression too. Miz as Knight says “you’re not sheep” and then says YEAH and gets a YEAH right back from the crowd. Too easy. Miz has a bag of free LA Knight t-shirts. He asks if you want a free shirt give him a hell yeah…or he means YEAH. Miz throws the shirts on the ground and takes everything off. “You are all so pathetic, you will cheer for anything.” Miz says anyone can be LA Knight. Miz says he doesn’t do catchphrases. “I am awesome” is the truth. Miz says when he beats LA Knight at Payback, everything will be done. He says the crowd will cheer free t-shirts and pandering, but they don’t cheer losers. Miz says whose game it really is? M-I-Z. AMAZING segment from the Miz, this feud has light a fire under him, which is when he is at his best. And more importantly, the Miz has set it up to be a big deal when Knight beats him. Seek this one out.
VIKING RAIDERS DEFEAT THE NEW DAY
The New Day are out for their match against the Viking Raiders. It can’t be said enough how great it is to have them back on TV. Riddle and Drew are out as promised to take in the action, once again Drew seems less than thrilled to be spending his time in a tag team. I do like that Drew is pissed at the Viking Raiders for interfering last week, so he is going to come out even if just for that reason. Woods and Erik start off, both men exchanging forearms that stagger the other. The Viking Raiders make some tags to cut Woods off from Kofi. Woods finally escapes and gets the hot tag to Kofi, who wastes no time flying all over the ring to take down Ivar. Kofi wants the Trouble in Paradise but Valhalla and Erik pull him to safety-or at least they thought. Woods pulls down the ropes and Kofi launches his whole body over the ropes to take out the Viking Raiders. Back from the break and the Viking Raiders have regained control, this time isolating Kofi from Woods. Classic heel tag team tactics from the Viking Raiders but its working, and the crowd is fully bought in. Ivar spends a little too much time talking to the crowd and Drew and Riddle, and that opens up room for Kofi to fight back. But a big boot to the face of Kofi snuffs out any comeback attempt. Kofi will not stop fighting, and moves to avoid a splash from Ivar to make the tag to Woods! Woods has had enough time to recuperate and is a house of fire taking out Erik. Woods gets a two count off an exploding clothesline. Erik has Woods in a full nelson and turns that into a knee to the back of Woods neck? Awesome move. Ivar and Kofi get tangled up and fall to the outside. Kofi runs off the steps into the arms of Ivar, and Ivar throws Kofi right back into the steps. Ivar picks Kofi up again and drives Kofi into both Drew and Riddle! Drew has snapped and tosses his chair into the ring. He tries to toss the second one at Erik but accidentally knocks out Woods. Uh oh. The Viking Raiders attack Drew, and then go into the ring to hit Ragnarok on Kofi for the three count. Drew and Riddle run off the Raiders, as the heels celebrate on the ramp. I love that Drew accidentally took out Woods, and WWE has surprisingly kept the Viking Raiders hot with key wins over the last few months.
BACKSTAGE WITH JUDGMENT DAY
Judgment Day is backstage, Finn is telling Priest that week after week it’s the same thing with them. They need to stop fighting and focus on their tag title match on Saturday. Priest says the problem is that they don’t need to concern themselves with people who don’t matter like JD. Finn says JD is the only reason Priest beat Sami Zayn tonight. Rhea breaks things up before it gets worse, saying others are starting to target them thinking they are weak. Rhea says if the Judgment Day doesn’t all walk out with gold at the end of Payback, then they’ll be some changes around here. Priest holds up his briefcase and says he has no problem winning gold. Hmm, I’m wondering where they go from here if Finn and Priest lose like I assume they will.
BRAY WYATT TRIBUTE VIDEO
They play the tribute video to Bray Wyatt. God it still doesn’t feel real, we love and miss you Bray. The lights are out as we come back from the video package, and the fireflies light the way.
BACKSTAGE WITH KOFI KINGSTON, Matt RIddle and DREW MCINTYRE
Kofi exits the trainers room with Riddle and Drew asking how Woods is feeling. Drew apologizes but Kofi says it’s okay, and that they know cheap-shots like that aren’t Drew’s M.O. Drew says next week we (Riddle and him) are taking care of the Viking Raiders, and he is going to talk to Adam Pearce to make sure he doesn’t have to tag in to get his hands on them. Kofi asks what Drew meant by not needing to tag in, and Riddle says he is just happy Drew said “we” which makes them a team lol
We see a recap of last week’s Intercontinental Championship match with Chad Gable challenging GUNTHER. Although Gable didn’t win the title, he beat GUNTHER by countout and became the first man to defeat GUNTHER in over a year. GUNTHER is on the announce desk for his usual sermon. GUNTHER says last week Gable made history, by being the first man to beat him in over five hundred days…by countout. Technically Gable gained a victory, but in reality he has won nothing. Because GUNTHER is still standing here as our WWE Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion. GUNTHER says Gable has achieved one thing “PISSING ME OFF.” Now Gable has his attention. Next week, Chad Gable will challenge GUNTHER for the Intercontinental Championship on Monday Night Raw. He says just like Gable isn’t beating him next week, he isn’t beating Ludwig Kaiser tonight. That brings out Gable and the rest of Alpha Academy. Gable says normally he’d give him a nice big SHOOOOSH, but GUNTHER is making some very good points. GUNTHER has been on the main roster for almost two years and no one has been able to beat him…until last week that is. Gable is confident, saying next week it won’t take him ten seconds to take his Intercontinental championship. Next week he will take it in 1…2…3!
CHAD GABLE DEFEATS LUDWIG KAISER BY DQ
Big “Whoop That Trick” chants which I’m just now realizing they are in Memphis so that makes waaay more sense. Seeing Gable do the peace sign taunts to “Whoop That Trick” was not on my bingo card. Michael Cole explains that GUNTHER is eleven days away from the longest reign as Intercontinental Champion, so if he is able to retain on Raw he will most likely break the record. Well that explains why they are doing the match on Raw and not on Payback. I also don’t hate the idea of giving those two the main event and a good twenty minutes. Gable looks for the Chaos Theory suplex in the corner and Kaiser panics and wraps his legs in the ropes. Much like last week, Gable is insanely fast with his holds. I love the way Gable is wrestling with a ton of confidence which reflects where his character is going. Kaiser tries to out power Gable, breaking out of an ankle lock and hitting a discus lariat for a two count. The two find themselves on the outside, and Kaiser hits a running uppercut ala Claudio to send us to break. Kaiser is hitting move variations that I’ve rarely seen, this dude is special. Gable is chopping away at Kaiser, but Kaiser scoops him up and hits a driver followed by a penalty kick for a two count. Gable nails a rolling neckbreaker, and then goes up for a moonsault but Kaiser moves. Gable lands on his feet and hits a convoluted move for a two count. Back to the throws from Gable, and then tackles Kaiser sending both men over the ropes. Gable’s second attempt at a moonsault connects, as he takes out both Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci at ringside. Back in the ring Gable goes for the diving headbutt but pulls up at the last second! He saw Kaiser put the legs up, and stopped himself and grabbed an ankle lock. Kaiser is able to escape the ankle lock and goes for the driver again, but Gable rolls through for the Chaos Theory. Just before the three count Giovanni Vinci comes in and breaks things up for a DQ. Otis comes in the ring and takes out Vinci, but now Kaiser and Vinci grab Otis and throw him shoulder first into the post. It’s a two on one beat down on Gable, and GUNTHER slowly enters the ring to pick the bones. GUNTHER tries to plant Gable with the powerbomb but Gable reverses and grabs an ankle lock! Kaiser and Vinci swarm Gable, and GUNTHER finally hits the powerbomb on Gable.
Fun match with Kaiser and Gable, but maybe a little too evenly match. I’m a big fan of Kaiser, but if you’re going to have Gable be the last obstacle for GUNTHER’s record, it can’t hurt to have him pin Kaiser clean.
BOB BARKER TRIBUTE
We see a highlight from the time Bob Barker guest hosted Monday Night Raw. For those who weren’t watching at the time, the guest host era was ROUGH. Barker was one of the few who was fun and didn’t seem like he hated being there. Worth checking out his opening segment with Chris Jericho if you’ve never seen it.
SETH ROLLINS IN-RING PROMO
Wade Barrett says that their is an unwritten rule that you don’t bring up guys injuries unless they do. I mean Seth Rollins mentioned it on a podcast, but I appreciate the effort to make Shinsuke Nakamura look conniving. Seth stands in the ring and allows the crowd to sing his song. “Memphis Tennessee, Yowie Wowie! Welcome to Monday Night Rollins.” Ugh, love the Bray tributes. If anyone can drop me a line on where to get Seth’s outfit tonight, please do. Seth says it’s been a long week so he is going to keep this short and sweet. This Saturday at Payback, he gives Nakamura what he wants. So how about tonight Nakamura gives Seth what he wants. If Nakamura has more mind games or mean things he has to say then “Why don’t you Shinsuke down this aisle and say them to my face.” Nakamura doesn’t come out, so Seth says he is going to head down to Beal Street, pour himself a drink, and let them sing his song all night long. Not a bad plan Seth. A video plays with Nakamura speaking in Japanese. It shows Nakamura training, saying he doesn’t want to simple beat Seth. He want’s to dismantle Seth as a man. “I want his wife to know I’m the reason he won’t be able to walk their daughter down the aisle on her wedding day.” Jesus. Nakamura says Seth is broken, so Nakamura will destroy his back and put Seth out of his misery. Back to Seth in ring, who says all we get from the legendary Nakamura is a video package? Seth says he wants to know what happened to the Shinsuke Nakamura that headlined the Toyko Dome. What happened to the Nakamura that lit the world on fire when he came to NXT. Seth says a month ago he would have given Nakamura the shirt off his back. But his broken back didn’t stand in the way of him becoming World Heavyweight Champion, and it’s not going to get in the way of him kicking Nakamura’s ass at Payback. After Seth beats Nakamura, then Nakamura will know that he will never take anything from Seth. Nakamura attacks Seth from behind with a knee to the back. One swift kick to the face of the champion, and Seth is out. Man this is the coolest Nakamura has been in a long time. I’m assuming Nakamura will be working the back heavy at Payback, which im all about. I hope they main-event.
BACKSTAGE WITH SAMI ZAYN AND KEVIN OWENS
Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens are in the locker-room. Sami says he is so tired of the Judgment Day. No matter what they do, the Judgment Day always find a way to come back. They always use the numbers game and get cheap little victories. Sami says fine, they will do this one more time. He asks Kevin to explain how it will go down. Kevin says they went to Adam Pearce and they got something made official. Pittsburgh is called the Steel City, so it’ll be a Steel City Street Fight for the tag titles on Saturday! Kevin says they are ending this once and for all. I’m infinitely more interested in the tag match now. Not saying a regular tag match wouldn’t have been good, but we’ve seen these four go at it before. Give me all the plunder.
TOMMASO CIAMPA DEFEATS BRONSON REED
Tommaso Ciampa is out for his match with “BIG” Bronson Reed, but Reed attacks Ciampa on the ramp before the match can start. Reed and Ciampa brawl in the ring, with Ciampa hitting a running knee to stagger Reed into the break. Ciampa has the advantage, but he runs the ropes and gets demolished by a crossbody by Reed. Ciampa picks up Reed (!!!) and hits him with the White Noise for a two count. Ciampa runs at Reed but Reed just brick walls him. A running sitout powerbomb by Reed gets a two count on Ciampa. The two men exchange strikes on the apron, before Reed tosses Ciampa face first into the steel steps. Ciampa plants Reed with the Willows Bell as they come back in the ring, and Ciampa follows it up with a running knee for a two count. Ciampa can’t get Reed to go down, but then jumps at Reed and gets caught. Reed has Ciampa on his shoulders, and Ciampa hits a crucifix bomb on Reed. An awkward cover gets a three count. Glad Ciampa is stacking wins, but man Reed feels directionless. They keep tiring different nicknames/gimmicks. The weird thing is he is impressive as hell and his matches usually end up getting the crowd involved because of it. I think it might be time to grab him a manager and unless him on the midcard.
INTERVIEW WITH BECKY LYNCH
Jackie Redmond asks Becky Lynch if she has any second thoughts about this Falls Count Anywhere match with her match against Trish Stratus on Saturday. Becky says yes, she has had second/third/fourth etc and they’ve all been about whopping Zoey Stark’s ass all over the arena. Obviously this isn’t the easy way but that isn’t what Becky wants. The man has come around to Memphis, and she is ready!
RHEA RIPLEY AND DOMINIK MYSTERIO IN-RING PROMO
In the crowd is the NXT Women’s Champion Tiffany Stratton. Love having the NXT stars in the crowd. Rhea Ripley and Dominik Mysterio are in the ring. Rhea says Raquel’s comment of cutting Rhea down to size is funny considering Raquel exaggerated her injury to get the jump on Rhea. The championship around Rhea’s waste proves why she is the absolute best. Rhea says Raquel is big and tough, but she isn’t Rhea bloody Ripley. So Raquel can talk all she likes, but at Payback “Mami’s walking out champion.” This brings out Raquel who doesn’t look to be in a talking mood. Dominik bails and the two women who will fight for the World championship on Saturday brawl. Raquel whips Rhea into the corner and hits a splash on her. Raquel hits a fallaway slam that send Rhea out of the ring. Dominik is back in the ring, and that distraction allows Rhea to come in and hit the headbutt on Raquel. Rhea tries for the Riptide on Raquel, but she is too big and too strong! Instead Raquel hits a clothesline on Rhea, and the champion retreats. They’ve been really conservative on giving Rhea’s challengers their shine, but I think it’s excellent to play up that Raquel is one of the few wrestlers bigger than Rhea. Ideally, Rhea has to evolve her game to get past Raquel.
BACKSTAGE WITH TRISH STRATUS AND ZOEY STARK
Trish Stratus is backstage with Zoey Stark. She says Becky is the only one to blame because Zoey is going to beat Becky all over the arena. Zoey says she will leave plenty of Becky Lynch for Trish in the Steel Cage this Saturday.
TERRY FUNK TRIBUTE
We see the Terry Funk tribute video from Smackdown, really glad we are seeing this one again too. What an absolute legend Funk was, and I don’t think I’ll ever get enough Funk stories as long as I live.
BECKY LYNCH DEFEATS ZOEY STARK (FALLS COUNT ANYWHERE)
Michael Cole says that falls count anywhere and he means ANYWHERE! I have a feeling these two are leaving the arena tonight. We see Stratton again, would be really interesting to see Becky and her go at it for a little bit after that Twitter tease. Both Zoey Stark and Becky have kendo sticks to start this thing. They both swing for it but Becky connects and we get a big “Whoop That Trick” chant. Kendo Stick assisted Russian leg sweep on Zoey for the two. Becky puts Zoey in a crossface with the Kendo Stick. As the two go on the outside, Trish attacks Becky with a kendo stick. Zoey gets the advantage for a moment, but Becky hits a crossbody off the top on both Zoey and Trish. She quickly covers Zoey for the two count. Trish gets a chair from under the ring and tosses it in but it hits Zoey! I’m not sure if that was a planned spot or not, but it went over really well with the crowd. Trish litters the ring with more chairs, and Zoey sets them up in one area near the corner. Becky locks in the Dis-Arm-Her but Zoey counters, sending Becky face first into one of the chairs. Zoey goes for the Z-360 but Becky counters into a Manhandle slam. It only gets a two count as Trish breaks up the count. Becky realizes as long as Trish is out here she doesn’t have much of a chance to win, so she chases Trish around the ring. She finally catches Trish and wears her out with a Kendo Stick. Trish tries to run up the ramp but Becky is not stopping. Zoey is waiting with a steel chair though and covers Becky on the ramp for a two count. Back from break, and the two women are back at ringside without Trish. Becky hits a Bexploder into the barricade for a two count. The crowd has been chanting for tables, and comes alive when Becky tries to grab a table out. Zoey cuts her off, trying to deny the fans what they want. Becky superplexes Zoey onto the pile of chairs but it only gets a two. Becky clears off the announce table. Cole asks what took them so long. Pop! Becky is looking for the Manhandle Slam but Trish is back and stops Becky. Becky takes Trish out again and then goes after Zoey. But once again Trish cuts Becky off of a Manhandle Slam attempt. Oh god, Trish hits a bulldog on Becky through a table on the outside! Trish drags Zoey for the cover and Becky barely kicks out. Trish and Zoey are now double-teaming Trish, and go for a double bulldog off some equipment boxes. Becky fights both of them off and sets up Trish for a Manhandle Slam. Zoey tries for the save but she accidentally knocks Trish off into a table! Both Becky and Zoey are shocked, but Becky snaps out of it first and hits a Manhandle Slam on Zoey into another table on the opposite side for the win! Becky holds up the Bray armband and cries as we go off air.
This was by far the best match of the Zoey/Becky/Trish saga. All three of these women were on a mission tonight, and hopefully the Steel Cage match at Payback is just as good. They seem to be setting up a Trish and Zoey split, I actually wouldn’t hate a small rivarly between the two. A pretty fun Raw, that didn’t miss Cody Rhodes’ presence as much as I thought it would.